May 30, 2010

The Joyful Living Party

Don's 'Ten Years of Joyful Living' party was a week ago today. The flowers that one guest brought and the others we had scattered around the house are fading but the glow of happiness is still hanging around. It's been ten years since his stroke and even with all my husband's physical issues, he's still happy to have beaten the prognosis of two neurologists that he'd be a vegetable for the rest of his life.

Every survivor of a major health crisis should have a 'Thank God I'm Alive' type party. It gives people an excuse to tell you how important you've been in their lives and/or it gives your guests a chance to stop and be thankful for their own good health or for having overcome obstacles in their own lives. We heard a lot stories like that. And people shared their memories of happy times spurred on by old photographs they brought. The party was filled with laughter from start to finish. One good friend brought a CD he'd made of music that was representative of hunting trips he, Don and another friend had taken out West. We also have a new metal sculpture of a crane standing next to our cattail bog where he can remind us every morning that it's great to be alive.

I told Don if he ever wants another party it's going to be catered in a restaurant. It was a lot of work to throw a party for 41 people all by myself and I'm just not a person with a lot of kitchen or party planning skills. The one thing I didn't worry about at all---the individual cakes I'd ordered and paid a fortune for---turned out to be the only part of the party that I was disappointed in. They looked great but were more frosting than cake inside. But even that became symbolic of the past ten years because in the aftermath of anything that goes wrong in life, you've got to let go of the little stuff and concentrate on what went right, what is really important in life. And in this case, too sweet cake is 'little stuff' compared to the people who cared enough to make time in their busy lives to come celebrate Don's life. That's huge and we're grateful for that.


May 17, 2010

Sourpusses and Something to Laugh About

For the past three or four years I’ve been telling everyone that I’m almost seventy when, in fact, I’ve still got two years to go before I effortlessly float into Septuagenarian Land like a feather on the wind. At least that's the plan and, no, I don’t have a propensity for lying. I’m just trying to avoid the depression of achieving that benchmark that my mother went through on her 70th birthday. I figure after the long prelude I’m giving myself to becoming a septuagenarian, I’ll be so used to saying the big S word that I won’t even notice that on my 70th birthday I’ll be just around the corner from death. Yes, Virginia, youth is wasted on the young.

They say that laughing every day keeps you young. Okay, I can do that but I ran into an older-than-me woman the other day who probably hasn’t cracked a smile in decades. I had stopped at a VFW roast beef dinner that is popular with the after church crowd in the area and just before I got to the first course in the cafeteria style line, the woman cut in front of me and brought three other people with her.

Looking down her nose at me, she said, “You’ve been here before so you can go to the end of the line.”

“No I haven’t,” I replied. “I just got here.”

“Really? Well we’re here now,” she shot back, “we’re not moving.”

As I contemplated the fact that I’d just been treated like chopped dog food, her husband whispered an apologized for her behavior and I was washed in sympathy for the man. She’d probably been acting like a prick her whole life and he’d been humbly mopping up after her since their marriage. They’d obviously just come from church which got me to wondering what that woman did when the minister is giving his sermons. Does she mentally make out her grocery list when he’s talking about love thee neighbor and other Golden Rule type anecdotal stories? Does she visualize the choir director in his underwear? Love, peace and fellowship---what the hell do those things mean to a woman who acts as if rudeness is her God-given right?

I didn’t say it, but it put a smile on my face to think about what I should have said to the sourpuss, line cutting church lady. I should have said: “That’s okay. Octogenarians like you are always in a hurry since you’ll be meeting your maker any day now. Me, I’m still a sexagenarian so I’ve got more time here on earth.” ©